Dec 102014
 

Western College Hockey (thanks to Chris Dilks for popularizing the term) is dying because it has failed to recognize and embrace its own lot in life. In what world does a sport, already extremely regional, think it’s a good idea to take two perfectly good conferences, throw them in a blender and see what happens?

College hockey used to be great, because every fan felt like they had a stake in things. As a Minnesota State guy, I hated St. Cloud State. Hated UMD. Hated NoDak.

— Dan Myers, NHL.com writer for the Minnesota Wild, “College hockey is dying, but the fix is simple”.

Myers’s point — and it’s worth reading the full piece, I assure you — is that the changes out west have harmed the sport because a lot of great rivalries are dead.  The key clause in the quote I pulled from his piece is this: “As a Minnesota State guy”.

As a UAH guy, I have a different perspective.  For one, my school wasn’t part of the old WCHA or the CCHA (though we tried to get into both).  As I noted in a post on the USCHO message board last night,

Through 1.5 seasons in the league, UAH has played Bemidji 74 times, Mankato 47, the Alaska schools 21 each (thanks to the early ’90s independent days), BG 14 times, Ferris 11 (four of those in 10-11), Lake and Northern eight times, and Tech just four times. Most UAH fans understand the rivalry with the Beavs, but you have to go back to the D-II days for fans to get the Mankato and Alaska rivalries.

I mean, really: the four teams we’ve played the most are rivalries from 15-20 years ago.  BG is pretty close and has been willing to schedule us in non-conference games. The Michigan schools have mainly played us in the last six years, and Tech has only in WCHA play.  The only real rival that we have is Bemidji — just revisit the #hateweek shenanigans from last year — and we went two years without playing them thanks to the Beavs’ busy WCHA schedule (soaking up eight games a year that had been free during the CHA) and UAH living the independent thug life.

But I think that the Chargers’ history in the CHA is instructive.  College Hockey America was, well, a collection of teams wanting to play Division I hockey in a quasi-Western league.  Let’s look at the membership of the league:

  • Air Force.  Prior to the CHA, the Falcons played 31 years as an independent.  Air Force saw the writing on the wall that the landscape wouldn’t support independents (no joke).  The Falcons had just one season above .500, going 19-18-2 in their first season in the league.  The Zoomies would head to Atlantic Hockey for the 2006-07 season, the real linchpin for the failure of the league.
  • UAH.  As we’ve talked about before, UAH started in Division II, moved to Division I, moved back down, and moved back up after the NCAA stopped sponsoring a D-II championship, an event that seems to hold the Chargers as the last D-II titlist ever.*  You could say that our Chargers were first in and last out, as they were one of just three founding teams to stay with the league for its entirety, and they didn’t find a new home prior to dissolution.
  • Army.  The Cadets bailed after one season for the MAAC, which would become Atlantic Hockey.  Prior to that, West Point had two stints in the ECAC (1962-1973 and 1984-1991) and otherwise played as an independent.
  • Bemidji State.  Like UAH, the Beavers had been a D-II power before getting swept up in the push to D-I in 1998.  BSU played as low as NAIA and as high as D-I, starting at the top before jumping to the bottom in the NCHA, which is now a D-III league.
  • Findlay.  Oh, what a story.  The Oilers were a from-scratch program, built by Craig Ford to move up quickly in the standings, but they never escaped the bottom half of the league before the program was axed after new University leadership came in.  This after the MAAC forbade all of its member schools from playing the Oilers in 2000-01, as the new team was still a provision D-I member.  That was dirty pool, y’all.
  • Niagara.  The Purple Eagles played their first two seasons (1996-98) as independents and joined the CHA in its inaugural campaign, presumably because the league offered the full 18 scholarships, allowing the men from Monteagle Ridge to fire on all cylinders.  The Purps were the league’s first ever NCAA tournament team, going a stunning 30-8-4 on the season.  After Greg Gardner kicked the net off of its moorings to invalidate a would-be-tying UAH goal late in the first CHA championship, Blaise McDonald’s squad would go on to knock off UNH in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  I mean, go look at the firepower on that team: six 15-goal scorers, three 20-goal scorers, and a senior goaltender who’d been the plow horse all season.  Niagara would leave for Atlantic Hockey when the lights went out, having tried to get into the ECAC (and probably Hockey East) for most of their time in the league.
  • Robert Morris.  Now, depending on who you talk to, the upstart Colonials were either set to play 2004-05 as an independent or as a member of Atlantic Hockey.  Also depending on who you talk to, the Colonials either chose to play in the CHA given an open spot with Findlay’s departure or were shoved there “for the good of the sport”.
  • Wayne State.  The Warriors were an upstart program that, from the outset, was trying to get into the CCHA with the other Michigan schools (less Tech).  They built momentum over four years, finally reaching full form in 2002-03 with a team that CHA old-heads still talk about.  Sadly, the team came to an end in 2007-08 after a long series of failed promises and tough “home” venues to draw fans into. #TartarsForever

Now you can say this: “Geof, if your frustration with Dan Myers’s piece is that he uses the concept that new rivalries hadn’t shown any glimpses of formation, why are you listing the CHA’s rivalries?”  I write this to expose the following:

  1. Air Force and Army had an extant relationship because of their status as national service academies.  Being in a league together made sense, although not enough for West Point officials, who probably sought a conference with lower travel costs and a shorter scholarship outlay (limiting the pool of talent) over one with a national reach (Colorado to the NYC area) that had just one league city near a major metropolitan airport (WSU; RMU wouldn’t join for four more years).  It seems that Air Force, sensing the end of the CHA, chose Atlantic Hockey for all the same reasons that the Black Knights did, with the added benefit of joining Army.
  2. UAH and BSU had their extant rivalry.  Until things picked up, it was the driver of the league.
  3. Findlay and Wayne State were cut from whole cloth; Robert Morris would join in the same condition.
  4. Niagara had only two years under its belt as an independent.

The point is this: there were next-to-no rivalries in the original CHA.  Like the new WCHA, it was mainly a group of teams thrown together in a general arrangement “for the best”.  The WCHA has extant rivalries: 1) Tech, Bemidji, Mankato, and Anchorage were all WCHA members; 2) BG, Northern, Ferris, Alaska, and Lake State were all CCHA members; 3) Fairbanks and Anchorage hate each other; 4) Tech and Northern hate each other; 5) Bemidji and Huntsville hate each other.  That’s a lot more than the CHA started with.

But the CHA built rivalries over time.  Plenty of people hated UAH for all the penalties they took (and those that they should’ve).  Bemidji’s trap was loathed.  Everyone hated playing at Air Force because of the altitude and the relentless nature of Frank’s teams.  Dave Burkholder’s shrill whistling drove everyone crazy.  Findlay … well, I still hate Mark Bastl for dropping four goals on us that one game at home (he had just one other marker all season).  Robert Morris and Wayne State played from the same playbook: build from the net out, check hard, and apply pressure.  I once rode the Warriors’ David Guerrera so hard that he flipped me off as he walked off the ice on Friday night (bro, don’t let me know that I got into your head!).  And Bemidji … I loved seeing them lose 26 games in Bob Peters’s last year.  Also, Says Phrakonkham … say no more.

#

Just as Dan can ply you with his wife’s disappointment with the new league being “boring”, I say, “Give it time.”  The league has played just nine months in this configuration, and with the big names gone and the leagues mashed together, the rivalries aren’t ready just yet.  And to quote parch on USCHO:

Anyone post here who experienced the great rift that formed when Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, and Notre Dame left to join the CCHA? Was there anywhere near the vocal outcry of losing those schools? What about the ECAC/Hockey East split that took place? Were fans in the ECAC just as hurt?

I think the B1G and NCHC were such a dramatic shift that it over shadows the WCHA/CCHA alignment and the ECAC/HE split. So many moving pieces changed at once that hockey fans weren’t able to take it all in. Considering B1G fans miss seeing the other schools, fans in both the NCHC and WCHA have their gripes. It’s just a lot to take in.

If things ride stay how they are now, this will be normal to the current fans of these schools, and us that remember the old ways can wax poetic about it like older fans reminisce about the “Old Old WCHA” or 17 team ECAC.

Barring injuries, Tech and Mankato look like locks for the NCAAs, and BG definitely looks to make that a trio if they can keep their stride.  If they fall, Ferris could ride Motte or Northern with Dahlströhm to make the NCAAs in the “low scoring, good D, terrific goaltending” formula that works from time to time (see UAH, 2006-07 and 2009-10, although both the Bulldogs and Wildcats are better squads than those Charger editions).  Rivalries are going to be built in March, and we’ve only had the one March.

#

As for Myers’s actual prescription for realignment, it seems fair, generally restoring the old WCHA, lumping in ASU, and booting Tech.  The new CCHA would have the usual non-BTHC suspects plus UAH and an Atlantic Hockey team of choice (hopefully RMU, because they don’t suck).  Would we at UAH like that from a travel perspective?  Sure!  But it’s a league split that definitely favors the WCHA side of things, having more marquee college hockey names than the CCHA, which also has to deal with travel to both Fairbanks and Huntsville.

The real potential here is for some kind of interlock between the two leagues.  If non-BTHC western college hockey is going to thrive, it’s going to have to be because we pummel the hell out of each other every weekend.  More on that someday, perhaps.

—-

* Actually, the last Division II championship was won by St. Michael’s College, which defeated New Hampshire College in 1999, the year after UAH and Bemidji State declared they were leaving for Division I. — Michael Napier

Nov 202014
 

Alabama HockeyOn Tuesday, Arizona State surprised the college hockey world by announcing it was elevating its club hockey team to become the 60th program in NCAA Division I.

ASU will take over as D-I’s southernmost program from UAH by about a degree of latitude, although if you capitalize the S, UAH will hands down be the most Southern. There is a chance they may be joining us in the WCHA by 2017, although I would think the NCHC is more likely for the Sun Devils.

Naturally, not long after the press conference wrapped up in Tempe, speculation abounded on which will be the #nexthockeyschool in Division I. It includes the usual suspects: Navy, Rhode Island, Buffalo, Illinois.

Also, Alabama.

The Frozen Tide club team has been in existence since the 2005-06 season. The Tide is coached by former Charger Mike Quenneville, who played for UAH from 1987-89 during its first foray in Division I. Alabama plays in ACHA Division III and is a member of the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC), which is comprised of club teams from eight Southeastern Conference schools. The Tide won the 2012 SECHC championship at the Huntsville Ice Complex, and was runner up to Arkansas in 2013 and 2014. Alabama is 12-1 so far this season.

The Tide has seen growing support, with good crowds at their home in the Pelham Civic Complex (especially during the Iron Cup matchups with Auburn).

So what would happen if Alabama decides to make the jump to NCAA Division I?

Let’s be clear that there is no known discussion — or even rumor — of Alabama making that jump. For UA to even consider it, they would need to figure out answers to the three issues that come up for every prospective school that wants to join college hockey’s big time:

  • Money. Penn State got a $102 million donation from Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula to start up their team, their women’s hockey team, and build an on-campus arena. Arizona State raised $32 million in private donations. Where would the start-up funds come from? Is the school willing to budget $1-$1.5 million per year to support the program?
  • Place to play: The Tide could conceivably continue to play in Pelham, which is over 50 miles from the Tuscaloosa campus, as a start, but  I suspect they would need a true Division I facility in Tuscaloosa. Would they build an on-campus rink? Renovate Coleman Coliseum and add an ice sheet? Who would pay for that?
  • Appease Title IX: Penn State added women’s hockey to go along with the men’s team. Arizona State may add women’s hockey, or two other women’s athletic programs to stay in compliance. What would Alabama need to add, and how much would that cost?

One of the reasons this thought experiment is even possible is UAH. If the UAH hockey program had folded, it is hard to fathom Alabama adding an expensive sport like hockey when the closest Division I opponent is in Ohio (Miami, 550 miles). 150 miles to Huntsville? That’s much easier. Even with Huntsville, the Tide would have the same issue UAH has to deal with — lots of travel.

Could Alabama spur other SEC schools to add hockey, as some suggest may happen in the Pac-12 with Arizona State? That would involve similar investments at a number of schools, and you simply can’t count on that.

But suppose everything somehow aligns and Alabama announces that the Frozen Tide is joining NCAA Division I. What would this mean for UAH?

Obviously, as alluded to before, it means an in-state rival for the Chargers. Whether they’re in the same conference or not, it’s hard to imagine that the Chargers and the Tide would not meet four times a year because of the proximity alone. And it’s hard to imagine that it would not be a true rivalry, with loud, boisterous crowds for both. (I would think we’d get the Auburn faithful who despise everything crimson.) That would be fun.

Many UAH fans may resent the Tide because they represent the UA system, where a certain former chancellor did the Charger hockey program no favors. Now the Tide would get in on our turf? Heck no.

Then there would be the recruiting battles. Which school would capitalize more on the South’s growing hockey talent? While UAH head coach Mike Corbett maintains that we will still recruit everywhere, there’s no denying that keeping the best players from the South in the region would be a boon. Now add a team in Tuscaloosa, looking to take some of that talent. I’m not sure I can get behind that.

In the end, however, I can’t imagine Alabama hockey going varsity. Even for a big money school like Alabama, so much investment would be required just to start it up, and there’s no guarantee the return would be worth it.

UAH was able to make a niche for itself 30 years ago, turning a popular and successful club team into a Division II power and then back to Division I. We had the support and the facility to do it, but college hockey has changed so much since those days. We’ve been fortunate, and despite all we’ve been through, we’re still fortunate that we are able to build a Division I program today.

All I can say to those who think Alabama should be the next hockey school is: You can dream, and you can wish, but it’s harder than it looks. Much harder.

Mar 172014
 

Despite the record, this 2013-14 season was good in terms of exposure. Promotions, sponsorships, and marketing have helped us get the highest average attendance in five seasons. But this first season in the WCHA was also a learning experience on and off the ice.

However, I have some suggestions.

I’m not going to talk about things I’d like to see in terms of players and coaching — I’m certainly not qualified beyond the obvious. We need to score more goals. ANALYSIS!

Instead, I want to focus on what I’d like to see in the coming years, things that will make UAH hockey look better. And looking better can help us become better. Consider this friendly advice from a longtime fan, supporter, and alum.

Home jerseys with more blue

Craig Pierce

To paraphrase a 1980s Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the blue?!” (Photo by Jazzmine Jordan)

I recently had lunch with a close friend of mine, and the topic turned to UAH hockey. She’s not what you’d call a sports fanatic, but she was at a game in January when they were handing out blue-and-white pom-poms. During the game, she found it very odd that she was waving a blue pom-pom when it seemed the only blue was being worn by the other team (Lake Superior State).

I don’t want to be too down on whoever designed the home jerseys this season, because I’m sure they are proud of their creation. However, the first line of our fight song is “We are the Chargers who wear blue and white,” but you wouldn’t know by looking at them. The problem: Too much black. I don’t mind a little black for the accent (over our history we’ve had silver, light blue, and red as accent colors), but the primary color of The University of Alabama in Huntsville is royal blue, and that color was marginalized in our own building.

These jerseys have pride in their blue and white. (Photo by Gemini Athletic Wear)

These jerseys have pride in their blue and white. (Photo by Gemini Athletic Wear)

In contrast, our road jerseys were beautiful. They are a bright royal blue, both bold and traditional. It seemed every where the Chargers went, the opposing team’s beat writers or announcers heaped praise on the road blues. When The Hockey News showcased UAH in January, the photo was of the road blue, not the home white. Uni Watch mentioned the road jersey when I submitted it for their hockey news ticker, but I did not see a repeat for the home. Maybe they were as underwhelmed as I was.

So why not tweak the home jerseys to match better with what the boys wear on the road? Here’s what I suggest:

uah_home_jersey_design_MNThese aren’t as different from this year’s home jerseys as you might think. There are only three changes:

1. The “UAH” is block to match the “Alabama Huntsville” font on the road jerseys. (It could also say “Alabama Huntsville” or “Chargers.” I kind of like “UAH” at home and “Alabama Huntsville” on the road, mostly because folks in Huntsville say “UAH,” while people outside of Huntsville call us “Alabama Huntsville.”)

2. The horse logo is replaced with the jersey number, just like the road jerseys.

3. Except for the shoulder horseshoe, the blue and the black are inverted, so that blue is the main color and black is the accent.

I think these would look so much better. Heck, even if only No. 3 happened to the current design, I think it would be an improvement.

Geof thinks using the official school logo on the front would be a cool idea:

uah_home_jersey_design_newlogo_MNI think I prefer the block lettering, but I am not opposed to this (it is slick). Either way, as the final line of our fight song says, let’s “have pride in your BLUE and white!”

More banners from the rafters, er, wall

I study UAH hockey history. For uahhockey.com I’ve done look-backs on the 1983 and 1998 national championships, and retrospectives on our histories with Bemidji State and the Alaska teams. I researched and expanded the record book when I worked in the sports information office back in the ’90s and on the side have been helping the sports information department expand the record book even more (it’s like 1995 all over again).

Quite simply, our history is under-represented at the VBC.

UAH's current banners at Propst Arena.

UAH’s current banners at Propst Arena.

Currently, the UAH corner of Propst Arena has three banners: The 1996 and 1998 NCAA Division II championships, and 25-year head coach Doug Ross. But we tend to say UAH five national championships when you count the three club championships of the 1980s. Those were important, because without them we don’t have the three banners we have now.

Then there are the accomplishments we’ve had since 1998, during our modern Division I era. We’ve won two College Hockey America regular season titles (2001 and 2003), plus two CHA tournament titles (2007 and 2010) and the NCAA tournament berths that came with them. They have banners at Spragins Hall, but not at the VBC.

So let’s fix this, and honor the teams that have done great things for UAH hockey and remind everyone what this program is capable of. (And show recruits, too!)

I propose we spruce up the UAH corner of the arena:

uah_banners_mock

A mockup of a proposed UAH wall of hockey honors. More championships means more banners. Those section markers are in the way — why are they so high? (Michael Napier)

On the left, there’s a WCHA banner with all the team logos. It seems every team in the league has something like this except us. It doesn’t have to be one big banner like I have in the photo, but it would be nice to have something. There was a time while we were in the CHA where there were placards with each team’s logo underneath one of the scoreboards — maybe that would be easier.

As for the Charger banners, this mockup goes for smaller banners than the ones we currently have so we can fit more. (Each Propst Arena tenant has its own corner to hang things, so we can’t decorate the whole place.) We have one for each national championship, conference regular season championship, and tournament championship (plus the Doug Ross banner).

If cost is an issue, we could combine the 2001 and 2003 banners, as well as the 2007 and 2010 banners. They don’t have to be pointed at the bottom, and they don’t need colored borders — these were just to make the mockups as cool as possible. Whatever works to expand our presence in the arena. We could auction off the original banners. And I’m willing to chip in on this in addition to my regular Blue Line Club dues. (I’m not kidding.)

I hope the powers that be can read this and take my advice under consideration. Even if my suggestions are completely ignored, I can’t wait for October. I’m looking forward to watching this program rise.

But seriously, MORE BLUE, LESS BLACK.

Michael Napier ’97

Mar 142014
 

As you might expect, this kicked off a torrent of tweets, some from me.  You really should go on Twitter and read the whole conversation.

Let’s consider a few things.

UAH had a historically bad season.  We all know that.  But four games against UAH was not a guarantee of eight points.  Two teams, Mankato and Northern, got the full eight points.  UAH picked a point off of Anchorage and two off of Bowling Green and Bemidji.  [Hold on, I’m laughing at the Bemidji thing.  Still laughing.  Moving on.  Ahem.]  So 60% of the time, you didn’t get the full eight points.  Now, there is the fact that UAH didn’t have a season split with anyone, and that you’re functionally substituting an average WCHA weekend (split) in that 60% of the time.  But the fact still remains that eight points was not automatic.  Points off of Anchorage and Bemidji kept them from cruising easily into the postseason.

Just as you can point to UAH as a likely win, you can point to games in Mankato and Ferris as a likely loss.  Bowling Green took a point off of Ferris in Big Rapids, but Anchorage could not.  Michigan Tech took a point off of the Mavericks in Mankato, but Ferris State could not.  Remember how everyone was shocked at that sweep?  Ferris was flying at that point and looked like they’d run away with the MacNaughton Cup (instead of getting it on the final night because there was the Mexican Pulled Goaltender Standoff in the Verizon Wireless Center).  In all four of these cases, these teams are in the top half of the league.  Clearly you can’t say that not getting the return date hurt them, even though they got dinged on the road.

There’s also this nugget from USCHO’s Matt Wellens:

And it gets worse for the Wildcats: the other teams they played four times were #1 Ferris, #2 Mankato, #3 Alaska, and #5 Michigan Tech.  Comparably, Lake State played #1 Ferris, #4 BG, #5 Tech, #6 Anchorage, and #8 Bemidji four times versus #2 Mankato, #3 Alaska, #7 Northern, and #10 UAH just twice.  The Bulldogs swept the Lakers for the season.  Just as comfortably as you could argue that playing UAH twice — and again, 60% of the time, you’re not getting eight points — you can argue that playing Ferris four times was to your detriment.  (You can’t just willy-nilly swap UAH in for Ferris in that last weekend: swapping UAH in means that the Chargers have to play one of their four-times teams in for Lake, and that whole process echoes throughout the conference, likely resulting in all sorts of standings changes.)

When it comes down to the two UP schools struggling to stay in the playoffs, Northern got the job done — with a harder schedule — and Lake State did not.  And then when it comes down to the fight for 8th place, Bemidji didn’t get eight points off of UAH, and the tiebreaker was head-to-head record, which the Beavers won decisively, 3-1-0.

Are we going to see seasons like this again in the future?  We probably won’t from UAH or anyone else being that historically bad, but we could see another season of a team being impossible to beat at home that you can’t take points off of in your own building.  Will that make the standings unbalanced?  Perhaps.  You could get so lucky as to have #2 and #3 in your building, #4-8 for home-and-homes, and #9 and #10 in their barn, where presumably they can be beaten (especially by you, the league’s best team!).  That’s a combination that’s at least as rare as having #10 be this historically bad.  Had Lake State had that sort of schedule, they’d have a case.  That’s not what happened — not even close.

Look, until the NCAA raises the games cap to 42-44 (before Alaska exemptions), 10-team conferences are going to play unbalanced conference schedules.  Were Mankato, Alaska, BG, Lake Superior, and UAH salivating at playing Anchorage four times this year?  They were ranked #9 by both the coaches and media coming into the season, and yet they were in on home ice until this time a week ago.  Moreover, were Mankato and BG really salivating at the chance to play those teams a combined eight times each?  Probably so, but Anchorage proved to be way tougher than anyone expected.

Chris Dilks seems to think that there will be some kind of change in the WCHA.  I can’t see where that change would come from, and frankly, I don’t know that it should be changed.  There won’t be a #10 outlier again like this season.  There probably won’t be any season with one team that wins 24+ games, either.  Without those kinds of statistical outliers, an unbalanced schedule has even less discernible effect than it had this season, and even then, it really didn’t matter.

Dec 102013
 

In a piece about BG being embarrassed and in disarray, Ryan Satkowiak wrote the following:

And where was that fire Saturday? Did BG just assume it would run over Huntsville? Has it learned that its still is not a team that can look at anyone as an “easy win”? Huntsville entered Saturday’s game with 13 goals in 15 games. That’s .86 per game. BG proceeded to allow more than FOUR TIMES their season total. Huntsville increased their season goal totals by 30 percent. With one game.

I mean, seriously. The last time Huntsville beat a Division-I team, I was still a college student. And not in that farewell, applying for jobs not really paying attention to school phase. It was last November, specifically Nov. 16 against Lake Superior. In the time since, Huntsville had lost 26-straight D-I games.

But if you’ve read anything I’ve written the last two months, you’d know how bad they are. I’ve been sure to let you know. In fairness to them, I exaggerate for effect. They’re like BG in 2009-10. Most nights they’ll lose handily, but every third game or so they’ll put out a good effort and give the opposing team a scare. This season they’ve had one-goal losses to Bemidji, Ferris, St. Cloud and Western Michigan.

To quote Bill Parcells, you are what your record says you are.  At 1-15-0, I think that it’s fair to say that we’re just not that good of a hockey team this season.  Stakowiak’s second paragraph makes that case pretty clearly.  Some people were wondering if we’d go winless.  Everyone on the message boards always said that that first win would happen, but it was clear that no one wanted to be the first.

BG was the first team to lose to us in 2013-14.  You are what your record says you are.

What I’m really mad about, though, is this one sentence, which I’ll quote again for effect:

Most nights they’ll lose handily, but every third game or so they’ll put out a good effort and give the opposing team a scare.

I went round and around with Satkowiak about this on Twitter.  Here are two important pieces in that discussion — but please, click on that linked sentence to see the whole thing for yourself.

I believe that the following people have a right to question our heart: our coaches and our players.  They’re the people that really know what’s going on.  If you want to say that we’re not very good, that’s factual.  If you want to say what Inside College Hockey’s Mike Eidelbes said:

I saw UAH play Notre Dame a couple weeks ago. You guys know the talent’s not there. That’s a byproduct of being in college hockey limbo for two years. But the effort and attention to detail are there even on nights they know they’re going to be outmanned. To me, it seems like everyone has bought in to what Mike Corbett’s selling. It might be 2-3 years before the program turns the corner, but it appears that day will come.

… then you’re welcome to say that, too.  There’s a big, big difference between what Satkowiak stated and what Eidelbes stated.  The following are paraphrases of the arguments.

Satkowiak: “UAH is not good, and some nights, they don’t put forth the effort to win.  Some nights, they do, and you can see what that’s gotten them.  BG is not a program that can afford to ‘assume it would run over Huntsville’.”  While Satkowiak states that it’s poor wording (see above tweet), he then said:

Eidelbes: “UAH is not good, but they work hard and have great attention to detail.”  Since Eidelbes said nothing about whether BG should or should not have lost to UAH, it has to stop there.

I am never going to question our players’ heart and effort.  I will let the coaches do that.  I will let the players police that on their own.  I’m not going to do it myself, and like hell I will sit by and watch someone else do it.

But guess what, Ryan, you did say it.  Your words are there.  You even admitted that you used poor wording, so I’m not sure why you’re back-pedaling from that if you really meant it.

See y’all Friday.  I’m sure that the effort will be there to match those who doubt it.